Excellence reaches for the stars in 2020

The year that COVID came crashing into our lives is one that we will remember for a host of reasons. 2020 was extraordinary in many ways – but, from a St Mark’s perspective, perhaps one of the most remarkable things about it was how stunningly well our students performed academically, despite the year’s profound challenges and disruptions.

We achieved the best set of results in the College’s recent history, with 26.7% of all results being High Distinctions and 27.3% being Distinctions – meaning that over half of all grades that our students received were in these top two brackets. Our first-year students in particular performed impressively, with just shy of 60% of their grades being Distinctions or High Distinctions.

This would be a stellar achievement in any year, but for it to be accomplished in the year that degree courses lurched online – meaning our students had to adapt not only to new ways of living, working, and socialising, but also to new ways of learning – makes it even more noteworthy, and a testament to the resilience, tenacity, and sheer hard work of our Markswomen and Marksmen.

There were many individual standout performances: an exceptional 8 of our students achieved a clean sweep of 8 High Distinctions; a further 12 students were awarded 7 High Distinctions.

Among the many students who received College Prizes and Scholarships in recognition of their academic excellence we should note our very top performers. Our highest academic honour, the Edward A. Radcliff Scholarship, was awarded to Grace Whyte, a first-year student studying a Bachelor of Health and Medical Sciences; Grace was also the recipient of the Sir Ronald Fisher Medal for the top Science student. Kate Whyte (Bachelor of Science (Advanced)) and Gemma Nunn (Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences) also acquitted themselves superbly, and were each awarded a G. Angas Parsons Scholarship. Many congratulations!

As well as applauding our students for their hard-won successes, we must thank those who have provided such tremendous support to our Academic Program, in particular our Academic Team and our Tutors. Their energy, expertise and encouragement have had an enormously positive impact on this year’s individual and collective academic successes. Thank you to you all!

All of this has been achieved in the first year since Dr Rachel Buxton (Hawker Scholar at St Mark’s, 1993-97; College Club President, 1997; Rhodes Scholar for South Australia, 1998) has returned to St Mark’s as Director of Learning. It has been terrific to have her leading the College’s Academic Program, and we are deeply grateful to her for the support she gives our students.

Our Academic Program is one of the things that sets St Mark’s apart: it gives new and returning students the support and inspiration to excel in their learning, and establishes a strong foundation to enhance their career prospects. We are excited to build on this in the coming year, as we work with our new Academic Team, appoint a new slate of Tutors, and expand our calendar of academic, faculty, and career events.

2020 saw the manifestation of our College motto – ‘Spernit Virtus Humum’, or ‘Excellence reaches for the stars’. We are eager to see what 2021 will bring.